What’s not to love about flat-faced dogs with their cute and wrinkly faces and squished noses? Flat-faced dog breeds or brachycephalic breeds with their squishy faces are super cute, loving and adorable. It’s no wonder that these breeds are popular with dog owners across the world.
What Are Flat-Faced Dogs?
Flat-faced dogs, officially known as brachycephalic dogs (“short head” in Greek) are squishy-faced dogs like Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus and Boston Terriers, to name a few, that have characteristic features such as a flat face, short skull and a short snub nose.
Bred for their cute looks, unfortunately, these adorable flat-faced dogs suffer from airway and breathing problems because of their squashed faces, among other health problems.
These flat-faced breeds are prone to brachycephalic airway syndrome, which makes breathing quite difficult, causing symptoms such as heavy breathing, snoring, breathing problems and a greater risk of suffering from heatstroke.
These dogs are vulnerable to eye problems and spinal problems and in general, have shorter lifespans compared to dog breeds with longer muzzles.
Nevertheless, despite all the health risks, flat-faced dogs are loved by pet owners because they make cute and loving pets. Research shows that this may be because of the resemblance of the facial features of these flat-faced dogs to that of human infants, triggering an emotional response and impulse to nurture.
So, if you’re thinking of bringing home a flat-faced pooch, then read on to know everything about the most popular flat-faced dog breeds.
Most Popular Flat-faced Dog Breeds
Originally bred for fighting, Boston Terriers are quite popular as gentle companions. These small compact and muscular dogs weigh less than 25 lb and are suitable for apartments and small homes.
Available in various colors like brindle, black and reddish-black, the coat of the Boston Terrier has tuxedo-like markings which give this breed the moniker “American Gentleman.”
Belonging to the brachycephalic class of dog breed, the Boston Terrier has a characteristic broad face with a flat nose, square jawline, round eyes and erect ears. Their short upper jaw gives them a pushed-in face and their short noses make this breed prone to respiratory issues and they often drool, snort and snore quite loudly.
The short snout-like nose of the Boston Terrier makes them prone to heat stress; however, their short coats also make them intolerant to cold weather and so, it’s a good idea to keep your pooch indoors most of the time.
Boston Terriers are very smart, friendly and affectionate dogs, with a gentle temperament and get along quite well with all the members of the family. They are quite active and lively dogs, requiring plenty of exercise to be happy and healthy.
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Originally from Germany, Boxers are one of the most popular dog breeds. These high-energy, loyal, intelligent and affectionate dogs are popular for their handsome good looks.
These dogs come in colors like fawn or brindle having white markings. Boxers are large square headed and muscular dogs with tight-fitting, short coats. The wrinkled forehead and brown eyes, give the Boxer a curious, alert and intelligent look.
They have short noses, which do not cool the warm air in summer and their short coat is not suitable for keeping them warm in the winter. Boxers snore loudly and also drool quite a bit.
These athletic dogs move smoothly and gracefully. They have deceptively imposing looks but in reality, Boxers are very friendly, mischievous and playful dogs with loads of energy.
Boxers are gentle dogs, having oodles of patience with kids, are extremely loyal to their family and make great family pets; however, they can be quite headstrong too. Their protective nature makes them excellent watchdogs. Boxers are active dogs that need mental stimulation and physical exercise to be happy.
Griffon Bruxellois or the Brussels Griffons are named after the city where they originated i.e., Brussels in Belgium. They were originally bred as hunting dogs to keep the stables, mice and rat-free. Lovingly called “monkey face”, this toy dog breed is small and sturdily built and has a lively, intelligent and an “almost human-like” expression (which also look like ewoks from Star Wars).
Weighing less than 12 lb, this little pooch has a large personality. The breed is characterized by its large, human-like eyes. The short black muzzle, beard and whiskers give the Brussels Griffon its nickname, “bearded dog.”
Some Brussels Griffons may have smooth coats, while others have rough coats and they come in colors like red, black, reddish-brown and black and black and tan. The dog has a sturdy, thickset body and is energetic and playful.
Brussels Griffons are intelligent, smart, self-important and devoted to their humans. They are curious, affectionate and cheerful dogs that make them excellent companions. However, these dogs have a sensitive temperament and can be sometimes high strung and even moody, demanding a lot of your attention.
Griffons bark quite a lot, making them excellent watchdogs; however, they can get quite noisy. Although these dogs come under the category of brachycephalic dogs, they are a generally healthy breed with minor health issues.
A typical flat-faced breed, the British Bulldog or English Bulldog is characterized by its muscular, hefty low-slung build, wrinkled “sour mug” face, a furrowed brow, pushed-in nose, undershot jaws with protruding lower teeth and hanging chops.
Associated with the British culture, the English Bulldog is considered a national icon and is associated with determination and courage.
The fierce looks of the Bulldog are completely deceiving. This breed is docile, friendly, loyal and dignified and makes excellent companions. This sturdy and muscular dog comes in various patterns and colors and has a short, glossy and smooth coat.
The Bulldog’s muscular body and stocky legs make his gait a distinctive, sideways roll. Weighing up to 50 lb, Bulldogs are famed for being easygoing and are always happy to curl up beside you or sleep with their heads in your lap.
The body and head structure of Bulldogs make them prone to health issues, especially joint and respiratory troubles. The short nose of the Bulldog can make breathing laborious, especially on hot and humid days. Bulldogs are not very active but need moderate exercise along with a careful diet because they are prone to obesity and also aggravates their health problems. Bulldogs tend to snort, snore, wheeze and fart and are prone to sleep apnea.
Developed around the 1860s by English gamekeepers to chase and hold poachers, the Bullmastiff is a cross between the English Bulldog and Mastiff. Bullmastiffs are large, muscular and powerfully built, fearless, but docile dogs.
Weighing around 100 to 130 lb, Bullmastiffs have a large, broad head, broad and deep muzzle, dark, intelligent eyes and V-shaped ears. They have a short coat that does not shed a lot and is easy to care for and comes in colors such as red, fawn or brindle.
Alert, intelligent and confident, Bullmastiffs are great family guardians, as well as excellent family pets. They are loyal and loving to their family while being standoffish towards strangers. While Bullmastiff is a large dog, they are not high on energy and just a little exercise or short walks are sufficient to make them happy.
Generally, a healthy breed without many health problems, Bullmastiffs are prone to heatstrokes and heat exhaustion when the weather is hot and humid, are also susceptible to flatulence and drool a lot.
The Chinese Shar-Pei, meaning “sand skin” was originally bred to hunt, herd, guard and fight; however, today, this breed makes for a great pet. This medium-sized, compact dog is interesting looking with its harsh, sand-paper-like coat, has a combination of odd features such as a broad muzzle, sunken, small eyes, scowling expression, blue-black tongue, small triangular ears, loose skin around the head, shoulders and neck and a high set, tapered tail.
Shar-Peis are independent, strong, intelligent, loyal and have a regal bearing. They have a serene but aloof disposition and make excellent guard dogs. They are loyal to their owners and family, but wary of strangers and other dogs.
Shar-Peis are naturally clean dogs and easy to maintain and groom. However, because of the mass of wrinkles, they can be prone to skin problems and need extra care. They have narrow ear canals, which make them prone to ear infections, requiring regular ear cleanings. This flat-faced breed is also prone to breathing problems, which may require you to reduce their exercise.
Dogue de Bordeaux
The Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as Bordeauxdog, French Mastiff or Bordeaux Mastiff is among the oldest French dog breeds. This large brachycephalic breed has a muscular and powerful build and was originally used to pull carts, heavy objects and guard flocks.
While they look fierce and intimidating, in reality, the Dogue de Bordeaux has a sweet and sensitive disposition. They are loving, protective and fiercely loyal. However, they can be quite stubborn too.
The Dogue de Bordeaux has a stocky build, short, fawn-colored coat, a huge head, deeply furrowed brow, undershot jaw and intelligent, expressive eyes.
These dogs are very easy to groom because of their short coat; however, since they have several skin folds, their face requires regular cleaning to prevent infection and irritation.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is extremely slobbery and drools a lot. And, because they are flat faced, they can develop breathing problems or overheat.
English Toy Spaniel
Also known as King Charles Spaniel or “Charlies”, the English Toy Spaniel is a gentle, sweet-tempered and loving breed. These dogs don’t weigh over 14 lb, are compactly built with square bodies, domed head, short face, long fringed ears, dark expressive eyes and a silky long coat.
The tail, legs and feet have silky feathering. They come in 4 colors—King Charles (black and tan), Blenheims (red and white), Ruby (solid red) and Prince Charles (black, white and tan). Bred to be a companion dog, the English Toy Spaniel has a laid-back, relaxed disposition and does not need a lot of exercise.
English Toy Spaniels cannot withstand extreme weather and prefer to be inside an air-conditioned environment. They are loving, easygoing and willing to please but don’t like to be left alone for long periods and can develop separation anxiety.
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Bred as a miniature Bulldog in England, the French Bulldog acquired its name when it went along with the English lacemakers to France. These cute, compact dogs with their stocky build and trademark large “bat ears” are popular as companion dogs.
Frenchies have a large, square head, a short nose with heavy wrinkles above and a muscular body with a smooth and shiny coat. Bright, alert, affectionate and playful, the French Bulldog is very charming.
Frenchies can’t withstand heat and can overexert themselves. They drool a lot, are prone to flatulence, shed moderately and can be difficult to house train. They are very adaptable, don’t need a lot of exercise, which makes them excellent apartment dogs.
Originating from Japan, the Japanese Chin is a dainty, elegant toy dog breed with a regal bearing. This breed has a distinctive catlike nature, cleaning themselves, climbing and sitting in high places and batting at objects. Typically, this toy breed weighs around 4 to 11 lb and is the perfect pet to cuddle.
The Japanese Chin has a unique Oriental look and is characterized by their flat face, broad head, short broad muzzle, long silky and profuse coat, large, wide-set eyes, patterned facial markings and ear feathering. The breed comes in colors such as red (including red, lemon, orange and sable) and white, black and white, or black, white and tan.
Being flat-faced, Japanese Chins often sniffle, snort or reverse sneeze. The breed is intelligent, sensitive, playful and somewhat independent. The Japanese Chin loves the company of humans and does well around people and is a great apartment dog.
Originally from China, the Pekingese is a toy dog breed that was a popular companion dog and lapdog favored by the Chinese royalty. With a regal bearing, Pekingese weigh up to 14 lb and are characterized by their compact, stocky build and typical rolling gait. Pekingese come in varied shades of red, golden-red to darker hues of red.
Pekingese have a large head with a short muzzle and large, dark and shining eyes. Their coat is very long at the shoulders and neck, giving the breed its unique “lion’s mane.” Bred in palaces amidst royalty, these dogs are charming, serene, independent and form strong bonds with their humans.
Because of their flat face and small skull, these brachycephalic dogs suffer from breathing and eye problems. They commonly suffer from eye ulcers and skin allergies. These dogs cannot withstand overly cold or hot weather and must be kept indoors because they can develop breathing problems if kept outdoors.
Originally, the companions of Chinese emperors, Pugs came to Europe in the 16th century and became the mascot of the House of Orange in Holland and House of Stuart. The small, compact but solid dogs are loved by people all over the world. Pugs are thickest, muscular and squarely built and weigh under 20 lb.
Pugs have a large round head and a comical face with a distinctive short muzzle, flat face, undershot jaw, deep wrinkles, large, round protuberant eyes, smooth, velvety black ears and a curled tail. Pugs have a fine and glossy coat that comes in colors like fawn with a black face, silver and black.
Bred as lap dogs, Pugs are very affectionate, sensitive and make great apartment pets. Pugs are charming, intelligent, loyal and playful. Being flat-faced, pugs snort, wheeze and snore loudly and their prominent, protruding eyes are prone to eye injuries.
Shih Tzu, meaning “Little Lion”, also sometimes called the ‘Chrysanthemum Dog’ is an Asian toy dog breed that originated from Tibet. This cute and adorable dog typically weighs between 9 to 16 lb but is quite solid for its size. Bred to be companion dogs, Shih Tzus are friendly, happy, playful, outgoing and affectionate.
This small dog with its regal looks was popular with the emperors of the Ming Dynasty. The breed has a distinctive cute face with dark, round expressive eyes, floppy ears and a long, flowy coat. The distinctive feature of the Shih Tzu is its undershot bite, where the lower jaw is a bit wider than the upper one.
The flat-faced Shih Tzu is susceptible to heatstroke because the air entering the lungs is not cooled efficiently, so it is best to keep your Shih Tzu dog indoors in an air-conditioned environment. Also, the flat face of the breed makes them prone to wheezing, snoring and they are also susceptible to dental problems. Shih Tzus are independent dogs and can be quite stubborn; nevertheless, they make wonderful, devoted companions.
A descendent of the Old English Bulldog, American Bulldogs were bred as working dogs and used by ranchers and small farmers to work on the farm as stock dogs, catch dogs and guardians. A cultural icon of America, the American Bulldog is muscular, stocky but is quite agile.
There are different types of American bulldogs that vary in terms of their appearance such as the Standard or Performance or Scott type, Classic, Bully or Johnson type and hybrids of the two types. These athletic, muscular dogs have a short coat and come in a variety of colors such as white, red, black, brindle, fawn or brown.
The American Bulldog has a large head and is somewhat brachycephalic with short noses that make it difficult for them to withstand hot weather. They are well-balanced, friendly dogs that have good endurance, agility and strength. They are intelligent, affectionate and protective, making them excellent family dogs.
Known as the Monkey Terrier or Monkey Dog, the Affenpinscher (“affen” meaning “ape or monkey” in German and pinscher meaning “terrier”) is a small toy breed that was bred to act as ratters in shops, homes and stables. Affenpinschers weigh around 6 to 13 lb and are usually a foot tall.
They have a rough, wiry, hypoallergenic coat. The breed commonly comes in black color, but is also available in silver, gray, red, belge (a combination of black, brown, red and white) and black and tan.
This feisty mustachioed little dog with a monkey-like expression is highly energetic and is a total comedian, full of antics, guaranteed to make you laugh. Affens love their humans and are affectionate, loyal and protective, despite being toy sized.
Originally from Tibet, the Lhasa Apso is an ancient breed that worked as guardians at palaces and monasteries. Less than 1 foot in height, Lhasa Apsos are small and compact, but hardy.
They are confident and smart with a royal bearing. Lhasa Apsos are renowned for their flat-hanging, thick flowing coat that drapes on either side of the body and protects them from extreme heat and cold.
Lhasas come in colors like white, black, slate, honey or parti-color. The elegant Lhasa has a cute face, with dark, oval eyes and a feathery tail curling over the back. Bred as a royal watchdog, Lhasas are suspicious of strangers, devoted to their families and extremely protective of them.
Also called a “Pom”, the Pomeranian is a Spitz-type dog breed that is named after the Pomerania region of Germany. A descendant of the German Spitz, Poms are categorized as a toy breed. Weighing just 3 to 7 lb, this small, compact dog with a cute foxy face has a huge personality.
Poms have a characteristic wedge-shaped head, erect ears, almond-shaped dark, sparkling eyes and a plumed tail fanning over their backs. The breed comes in varied coat colors such as white, cream, brown, red, orange, blue or black. Poms have a dense, double coat with a luxurious ruff around the chest and neck.
They are feisty, independent and bold dogs with a mind of their own and think that they are larger than they are, leading to taking on dogs much larger than themselves. Poms bark a lot and are suspicious of strangers, but are loving towards their family members.
Named after Chihuahua, a state in Mexico, the Chihuahua is among the smallest dog breeds. Weighing less than 6 lb, this tiny little “purse dog” has a large personality and is among the oldest breeds.
The Chihuahua has characteristic features such as a rounded head, luminous, expressive eyes, erect ears and they come in a wide range of colors and patterns.
These charming dogs are very loyal and rule your home with their “big dog” attitude. Chihuahuas love being around people and are likely to follow you around wherever you go and make excellent apartment pets. And, their unique size makes them perfect to carry around everywhere in your tote bag.
That brings us to the end of our roundup of the best flat-faced dog breeds that are sure to steal your heart with their adorably cute looks. While being brachycephalic, these breeds are prone to breathing issues and other health problems.
Nevertheless, these flat-faced pooches are definitely worth bringing home to your family and they are sure to provide you with a lifetime of love and companionship.